Podcast 123 – “Opening the Doors of Creativity”


Guest speaker: Terence McKenna


[NOTE: All quotes below are by Terence McKenna.]

“Nature is the great visible engine of creativity against which all other creative efforts are measured.”

“The precondition for creativity is, I think, is disequilibrium, what mathematicians now call chaos.”

“The prototypic figure for the artist, as well as for the scientist, is the shaman.”

“This really is the bridge back to the archaic, shamanic function of the artist, permission to explore the irrational.”

“And this pulling into matter of the ideas of human beings, first in the forms of beadwork and chipped stone and carved bone, within 20,000 years ushers into the kinds of high civilizations that we see around us and points us toward the kind of extra-planetary mega-civilization that we can feel operating on our own present like a kind of great attractor.”

“This seems to be the special, unique, transcendental function of the human animal, is the production and condensation of ideas. And what made it possible for the human animal is language. … Human language represents an ontological break of major magnitude with anything else going on on this planet.”

“Language is the unique province of human beings, and language is the unique tool of the artist. The artist is the person of language.”

“Language has made us more than a group of pack-hunting monkeys. It’s made us a group of pack-hunting monkeys with a dream.”

“The glory of the human animal is cognitive activity, song, dance, sculpture, poetry, all of these cognitive activities, when we participate in them, we cross out of the domain of animal organization and into the domain of a genuine relationship to the transcendent.”

“The psychedelic experience shows you more art in an hour and a half than the human species has produced in fifteen or twenty thousand years.”

“The perturbation of brain chemistry is easily done. What is not so easily done is the assimilation of the consequences of this act.”

“Culture is a plot against the expansion of consciousness.”

“Art’s task is to save the soul of mankind, and that anything less is a dithering while Rome burns. … If the artist cannot find the way, then the way cannot be found.”

“Nature is not mute. It is man who is deaf, and the way to open our ears, open our eyes and reconnect with the intent of a living world is through the psychedelics.”

“The civilization that was created out of the collapse of the medieval world has now shown its contradictions to be unbearable.”


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Posted in Art, Creativity, Culture, Language, Shamanism, Terence McKenna (mp3) and tagged , , , , , .


  1. Hi!

    I’m trying to find who, if anyone, owns the intellectual property on the lecture as I’d like to use some extracts in a musical project?

    Any ideas or help much appreciated.

  2. Comments from original blog page: http://www.matrixmasters.net/blogs/?p=252

    Thank you Lorenzo.

    This talk is particularly insightful and very thought-provoking. it is unequivocally a “hear more than once” talk, with a lot of in-depth material to be assimilated.

    i think that’s what i especially appreciate about TM, the fact that he is so multi-faceted in his brilliance that one can listen and listen and listen and a bunch more listens and still learn something new every time.

    blessings, :L


    tree wisdom
    As both an artist and a seeker of sorts, I appreciated this podcast (not that that I haven’t appreciated the others, mind you). I especially got a kick out of Terence’s point about artists being the only ones who have the social waiver to essentially act crazy (“a voice told me to do this”, etc). I hadn’t thought about it that way, it’s quite liberating, and it makes me want to utilize that benefit more than I had before.

    Though I have been combing the podcast archives for months now, listening to one or two a day, this is the first time I have spoken to the community. Many thanks to Lorenzo, the speakers and all the behind-the-scenes people for making such a wonderful resource available to the world. It’s an eye/mind opener, and it’s nice to know I am not all by myself in this.

    Dear Lorenzo,

    Your words at the beginning of this podcast rang a bell somewhere in my head. When you talked about change and how people who hold on the “status quota” get left behind made me think about people in deep loving relationships. You see, I am relatively old or young (25) however you perspective is shifted and in finishing my first year in a graduate school of public health. My question to the psychedelic community is how should feelings of fidelity, and monogamy be interpreted when the message is of impermanence? I guess my question really is if the orgiastic ways of the past resonate with others and if you can still be a psychedelic thinker and have a fidelitous lifelong relationship? Are all psychedelic thinkers swingers?

    “sacred medicines and monogamy?”

    an answer to “terranhealer”

    i guess i have to chime in on this as i’d been thinking the same questions. it is perhaps the one discontinuity i have re internal resonance with Terence… the idea of loss of monogamous relationships for orgiastic ones. on a similar note, if you listen to early Daniel Pinchbeck talks, he says he’s not monogamous. he is a father now, so i wonder if that attitude has changed?

    now. first the facts – i’m an old fart, with no kids, for which i am alternately grateful -when i see brats in public- and sad – when i hear Lorenzo and other friends in love with their Grandkids.

    I am thankful frankly that i have back the portions of my brain which sexual hormones used to dominate. even being female, i was very much a sexual being, although more along the lines of “serial monogamy” – and am now mostly happily married for 17+ yrs.

    i say “mostly” in that while he’s the greatest guy on the planet that doesn’t mean it’s all disney romance [and we both feel that “romance” is a killer for relationships – anyone who’s sucked into that mythos and expects it to be real is in for serious disillusionment].

    i can see the idea of a Goddess culture – but that doesn’t have to mean Terence’s orgiastic heaps – as even there with total freedom. some of us Shaman=types would rather be alone than always in the mix.

    vivid memories of psilocybin mushrooms and the party going on. i went out and climbed a tree.

    discovered i felt like IX-the Hermit in the tarot deck, that i was taking a journey across a long and barren desert, but willing to hold up a lamp and blaze a path. guy i was dating was there, but my need was for solitude. that IS the Shaman’s path after all.

    first, i recommend thoughtful reading of colin wilson’s THE OUTSIDER, which won him a lot of praise in the 60’s- for his ideas that true cultural visionaries – from van gogh to picasso to nietzche to almost anyone you can name – are “outsiders” – they are not in the mass of conformists – are not sucked into the cultural mileau. this is more of what Terence says “culture is not your friend”. i remember vividly learning that when “everyone likes it” it’s an almost guaranteed kiss of death for me – too banal, boring, silly, same, same, dull. and NOT out of mere rebellion, but out of not being part of the “lumpen proletariat” – the ones who are being fed by the Bush machine “bread and circuses” -indy 500 and incessant football instead of seeing that this admin thinks 1984 is a political model!! aack!

    so i personally would say that i think fidelity and honor and honesty and trust can be part of oneself and one’s relationships. and one can still BE psychedelic.

    i can’t SAY what it’d be like if i were in a society with 25-50 others, mutual family, and all psychedelic – would we be bed-hopping? i don’t live that life.

    BUT, i know that there are personal precepts that one feels, as distinct from societies “rules” –

    for example, i don’t steal – not because walmart will get mad – but because it is against my own moral standards. similarly, i wouldn’t mess with another person’s spouse from my own moral standards, not b/c “mommy said so” or the church. i’d like to think that shrooms wouldn’t suddenly make me give up my own standards.

    a key point in REAL enlightenment, which our ‘sacred medicines’ give us…

    one can take medicine or sit on the cushion and think you’re awake… but it’s easy to be kind living in a cave. it’s what you do when someone steps on your toe! that shows your real nature.

    there are quote “enlightened masters” like chogyam trungpa who slept around and were drunk all the time… maybe their words were good, but i think “Pretty is as Pretty does” – do YOU think Paris Hilton is “pretty” ?

    what use is enlightment that is not lived? it’s like the “patriotism” of a George Bush! [er “tricky bush and spiro cheney admin]

    so, at long last dear Terranhealer, if monogamy is your thing, then it is.

    i would however be aware of change, as it does come, and one can grow away from the other.

    if you become Vegan and your partner is a deer hunter, could you be with them?

    so one hopes the flow of time and change brings you together, not apart… and that takes commitment and work to flow with each other.

    as Terence said, there are seasons in all things: spring, summer, fall, winter… but a winter in a relationship doesn’t have to be a “death” or ending, if you planted new seeds to flower in the spring…

    blessings :L, drlaura


    ps did you ever wonder how a “silent shaman” can be so chatty? it seems that life isn’t giving me, like Lorenzo, a “voice”. i can be silent and write, yes?

    terranhealer raises an interesting question, particularly in light of what we often hear Terence say. However, like drlaura, my personal experience has been one of “serial monogamy”.

    From an intellectual point of view, I can see where Terence’s ideas could work, but only in a society that had a very long tradition of behaving in that manner. In any of today’s cultures that I know of, my hunch is that shifting from monogamy to an orgiastic society in a short period of time just won’t work. And that holds true for the psychedelic community as well, IMHO.

    I have several friends who have been in different kinds of group relationships over time, but not a single one of those groups survived five years of more. … Perhaps one way for humans to transition back into a less possessive model of sexual activity will come from online fantasy and role-playing games that are 100% virtual. It may not be quite the same as being there, but it comes with significantly fewer complications. 🙂

    This is a gret talk not only for psychonauts, but for everyone who ever wondered what a mirror is and how to use it. In this case, Terrence speaks of art as the historical context in which we can view ourselves. His mention of abstract expressionism being the most radical break in the canon of proportions set forth by the classicals, art decos, then surrealists is a cornerstone of understanding about who the human race is currently, and what we are capable of. The very fact that one needs to understand the artists’ motif and their message before one can understand the artwork is a fact involving relativity that is so easily overlooked. Symbolism is one thing, but liken the symbols to dream imagery and everyone will have a different notion of what those symbols mean. So one MUST use compassion when viewing contemporary art, or one could hurt Mark Rothko’s feelings, and he was all about feelings. This lack of compassionate attention is how the ruling class can perpetuate its fear-based scurry to salvation because it honestly cannot show compassion for the opposing forces to their control, and why the controlled cannot understand the ruling classes objectives. One will never understand whether the grass is greener on the other side, but one can open their heart to try and that is all that is necessary. Thanks Terrence and Lorenzo, great message for this time.

    Hey salon! I’m not a regular poster here, but I am an avid listener to Psychedelic Salon. Lorenzo, you are amazing, keep it up.

    So I’ve been going back and listening to the McKenna talks that I had not heard, I’m obsessed with the man you see, and this particular one stood out to me. I am a theatre designer and generally an artists at life I guess and this talk was enormously inspiring and motivating for me. It is an answer to a lot of the questions I would have had for McKenna all of which go something like, what do I do with all this astounding information. So I decided to transcribe the talk. Below is a link to the transcript pdf of this talk. peace.

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